The essence of justification by faith is that we are accepted by God. Although we are sinners, our faith in Christ's Atonement leads to forgiveness and hope. We know that God is for us in Jesus. This tremendous change in our relationship with God brings to life new desires for inward purity and love for others. These desires are signs of the experience of new life, the spiritual transformation that we call regeneration.
The blessing of regeneration is described in the New Testament in a number of ways. In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks of the need for those who would see the Kingdom of God to be born again (John 3:3-8). He is describing the rebirth in the Spirit that comes about through faith. Paul uses this idea of new creation to illustrate the death of the old life and the beginning of the new (2 Corinthians 5:17). The language indicates an inwards revolution as well as an outward change in our status before God The gift of the Holy Spirit is new life.
Regeneration is distinct from justification but closely related to it, and the two are inseparable in our own experience. Justification is God's work in us, the forgiveness of our sins and our change of status before God. It does not depend on our moral renewal. Regeneration is God's work in us, the gift of the indwelling Spirit and the beginning of a life of holiness. It is our call to the Christlike life and involves our moral renewal.
Regeneration means that we die in our old life and come alive to Christ (Romans 6:2-4; Colossians 3:3). We are alive to the presence of Christ with us, we hear his call to follow him and we experience his peace and joy in our hearts. We are sensitive to sin and eager to seek forgiveness. The fruit of the Spirit becomes evident in us as a visible sign of regeneration (Galatians 5:16-26). The Spirit guides us as we reach out to share the love of God with others. We look to the future rather than the past and are filled with hope. We learn to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. This regeneration is the final step in a life of holiness in Christ.